Newcastle 2-0 Liverpool: Five talking points from St James' Park
By Nick Wright
Last Updated: 07/12/15 8:13am
Georginio Wijnaldum was instrumental in both goals as Newcastle claimed a 2-0 victory over an in-form Liverpool at St James' Park.
The Dutch midfielder fired in off Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel for Newcastle's opening goal, and he sealed the win when he finished off a rapid counter-attack in stoppage time.
The result eased the pressure on Steve McClaren and left Jurgen Klopp with plenty to ponder. Here, we look at some of the top talking points from the Super Sunday clash…
Klopp's progress stalled
Liverpool were talked up as potential title contenders after their thumping wins over Manchester City and Southampton, but this disappointing defeat abruptly stalled their progress under Klopp. Newcastle have conceded the most goals in the Premier League this season with 30, but the visitors rarely looked like finding a way through and didn't muster a single shot on target until Dejan Lovren's 89th minute header.
In the Sky Sports studio, former Liverpool midfielder Dietmar Hamann felt it was a reality check for the Reds. "I think people did get carried away," he said. "Yes, they had a few good results, but they had quite a few iffy games where they came out on top or drew but didn't play well."
Liverpool were let down by a lack of creativity and sloppiness in possession. "Without Coutinho and without Sturridge for large parts they struggled to find a way through and for most of it they looked very ordinary," added Hamann. "Regardless of who is on the pitch, I think they have to improve their retention of the ball. Today they were not composed and they lost easy balls."
Klopp, meanwhile, admitted they were well below their best. "A few days ago we were brilliant today we were not good," he said. "That's how life is and how football is. We have to understand why and we have to go on."
Newcastle show some fight
After the traumas of a training ground bust-up and a 5-1 thrashing by Crystal Palace last week, beleaguered Newcastle boss McClaren finally got a response from his players. Before the game he said his side would need to match Liverpool's intensity to have any chance of getting a result, and that's exactly what they did.
Premier League tracking data showed Newcastle ran 117km compared to Liverpool's 116.5km, making them the first team to outrun the Reds since Klopp's appointment. Their work rate and desire was a stark contrast to their recent displays, and they also recorded their highest total of sprints (581) in a single game all season.
The result moved them above arch-rivals Sunderland, and McClaren applauded his players' efforts. "They do care, and there is desire. You saw that today," he told Sky Sports. "We pressed from the front, we worked as a team and we kept compact. And when you keep your discipline, when you keep your focus, when you put the work in and compete and win your duels, then you get results."
Liverpool strikers struggle
Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi scored five goals between them in Liverpool's Capital One Cup demolition of Southampton, but it was Christian Benteke who led the line at St James' Park. Sky Sports pundit Thierry Henry was less than impressed with his contribution.
"He has to do more," he said. "I know playing alone up front is not easy but waiting for service is not the only way to go. You have to put the team on your shoulders sometimes and he's not doing that right now."
Benteke was a static presence up front and covered less ground than any of his outfield team-mates prior to his substitution. He was also guilty of spurning an excellent chance when he poked over from close range following a corner in the first half.
Sturridge was his replacement, but he failed to replicate his devastating performance in midweek. The England international showed signs of rustiness following his time on the sidelines, dragging one angled shot wastefully wide after he was released by Adam Lallana. Origi was given 15 minutes after replacing the erratic Jordan Ibe, but he couldn't make an impact either.
The outcome might have been different had Alberto Moreno not been incorrectly flagged for offside in the 79th minute. The Spaniard latched onto a diagonal past and sent a brilliant volley past Rob Elliot in the Newcastle goal, and replays showed he was comfortably onside.
The decision compounded a miserable afternoon for Liverpool, but Klopp refused to use it as an excuse and admitted the Magpies were the better side overall.
"In that moment maybe we deserved a point, but if you ask me who is the most deserving winner then my feeling is it's more Newcastle than us," he said.
Man of the match Wijnaldum was fortunate with the opening goal but there was nothing lucky about the second. The Dutch midfielder covered around 60 yards to latch onto Moussa Sissoko's through ball in stoppage time, and the first-time dinked finish over Simon Mignolet was perfectly executed. "He made it look easy, but it's not an easy skill at all," said Henry after the game.
The Dutch international has now scored seven goals since his arrival from PSV Eindhoven in the summer, but it wasn't just his work in front of goal that set him apart against Liverpool. No player won possession more times than Wijnaldum (12), and he also ran further (11.9km) and sprinted more times (71) than any of his team-mates.
"At half-time we were saying they need to be a bit less timid with how they break out to a counter, and Wijnaldum was the symbol of it in the second half," added Henry. "Three or four times he broke from midfield and found some space or a ball for his strikers."